Faith Country & Bluegrass Feature – Authentic Unlimited Band

The following article is from Kristen Bearfield‘s Faith Country & Bluegrass article in the June issue of Singing News magazine.

Authentic Unlimited is a relatively new group to the bluegrass music scene within the last few years, but it is comprised of seasoned veteran musicians who are no strangers to this genre. In just a few short years, they have captivated the hearts of listeners and created lifetime fans. The band will be performing at the “Faith Country & Bluegrass Festival” at The Ark Encounter on June 12.

I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with my good friend of many years and founding member of the group, Eli Johnston, and I am pleased to introduce Eli and his incredible band, Authentic Unlimited, to the Singing News Faith Country audience.

Kristen: Tell us a little bit about your beginnings—your origin story as a band, so to speak. How did you get into music together, and what made you choose this path over others?

Eli: The entity of Authentic Unlimited was born out of the final Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver group, shortly after Doyle’s retirement. Jerry Cole (bass/lead vocals), Stephen Burwell (fiddle), and I wanted to continue to travel on the road and ultimately keep doing what we all enjoyed. So, we rolled up our sleeves and went straight to work on finishing the formation of our band. The three of us dove right into the studio and had tracks started before we ever hired the other two guys.

Doyle was more than just a phenomenal artist and musician; he was a mentor on how to run a business in this industry. Performing is the easy part of the job; the hard part is behind the scenes of running a successful business. Doyle did the best job of teaching us that. Whenever I found out he was “hanging it up,” I knew we’d have some very big boots to fill, but there was one man who we all knew would be a perfect fit. So, we were lucky to take on the great Jesse Brock as our new mandolinist. Shortly thereafter, we filled out the ensemble with one of the most talented, young, and upcoming male lead and tenor vocalists of our genre, John Meador.

We officially hit the road and started touring in early 2022, and we’ve all learned a lot about each other in two years. The one constant that keeps our group grounded is our love for sharing the gospel. Our hope is that every time we hit the stage, just one person in that audience can see the love we share for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Kristen: Who was your biggest inspiration for music growing up?

Eli: “I really owe my musical inspiration to my parents. My mom always said that I got my earfor harmony while she was carrying me in her belly. She liked all the vocal groups from the 1980s. My dad played guitar and was also a singer. I always fooled around with instruments, but my dad was the one who got me to playing seriously. He would carry me to festivals all over Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. He’s really the reason that I found a love for Bluegrass.

Kristen: What projects are you currently working on? What’s ahead for you in 2024 with music releases and touring?

Eli: Our group just released two full-length albums, So Much For Forever and Gospel Sessions Vol. 2, in March of this year on Billy Blue Records. We hopped back into the studio and began working on something we’re all very excited about. We will release a Christmas album later this year, and the tunes are seasonal favorites handpicked by each band member. This album will showcase not only the instrumental ability Authentic Unlimited has to offer but will also feature our unique vocal blend. We believe this album will be very special.

Our 2024 tour schedule has shaped up nicely, and we are already starting to fill up dates in 2025 and 2026. Our tour schedule can be found on our website at www.authenticunlimitedband.com. We are truly thankful for all the show promoters who have booked Authentic Unlimited. We simply couldn’t make the wheels roll without them. We are also so very thankful for all the fans who have shown unbelievable amounts of support to us. We will continue to stay obedient and keep the Lord at the forefront of our group because He is so good and faithful to us!